LAS VEGAS -- We're right smack-dab in the middle of football season, yet the biggest betting news to come across the Tuesdays With Tuley news desk yesterday involved baseball.
The Chicago Cubs introduced Joe Maddon as their new skipper Tuesday, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lowered their odds from 40-1 to 25-1 for the Cubs to win the World Series and from 18-1 to 11-1 to win the National League pennant. That's a pretty rare move for a manager hiring, and even more surprising for the famously lovable losers that haven't played in a World Series since 1945 (which will be 70 looooong years come next October) and haven't won one since 1908.
When Maddon opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays last week, there was a lot of speculation that he would go to a ready-made contender, but the 60-year-old inked a five-year, $25 million contract and sounded as optimistic as could be.
"For me, I'm going to be talking playoffs next year," Maddon said. "I'm going to tell you that right now because I can't go to spring training and say any other thing, I'm incapable of doing that. Why would you even report? It's all about setting your standards, your goals high because the problem if you don't set 'em high enough, you might actually hit your mark. And that's not a good thing.
"So we're going to set our mark high. Absolutely. I'm going to talk playoffs, I'm going to talk World Series this year, I promise you. I am. ... It's within our future, there's no question about that. ... In my mind's eye, we're going to make the playoff next year. And that's how I'm going to approach next season."
Now, a lot of people are laughing about it and saying: "Playoffs? You're talking about playoffs?" And you can hardly blame them, considering the Cubs' past history.
But obviously none of those people saw "Back to the Future II."
In the scene where Doc Brown takes Marty McFly ahead to 2015, we see a news report about the Cubs winning the World Series and that gives McFly the idea to buy "Gray's Sports Almanac" so he can bet on sports when he returns to the past.
The Cubs' recent accumulation of young talent since Theo Epstein took over in 2011 and now the addition of Maddon could be leading us to witnessing life imitating art.
Now, as a "Back to the Future" buff, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the Cubs are shown to have defeated Miami in the World Series, and the team's logo is shown as an Alligator. There's never been an American League team in Miami (nor an MLB mascot as a Gator), and the closest is the Miami Marlins in the National League, meaning the Cubs can't face them in the World Series.
Die-hard Cubs fans just hope that whatever event caused this ripple in the space-time continuum doesn't affect the Cubs' progress, as well.
This column was created to be interactive (just like we're having a sports betting conversation among friends), so each week we ask for reader questions, either in the comments below or on Twitter (@ViewFromVegas), as well as on our weekly Spreecast (Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. ET) and chats (Fridays, 1 p.m. ET). Here's one we received this past week:
M Schrute from Chicago (from Friday's SportsNation chat)
Q: Always appreciate you doing these chats. How many wins do you think Joe Maddon is worth for the Cubs this year -- is there a WAR that exists for coaches in baseball?
A: I'm not aware of a WAR for MLB managers, but I'm sure this will get someone working on that! All I know is Maddon to the Cubs makes sense since we all saw in "Back to the Future II" that the Cubs win the World Series in 2015! [Author's note: thanks for putting this thought in my head for this week's column.]
Aaron from Arlington (from Friday's SportsNation chat)
Q: Dave, any sports betting movies better than "Two For The Money" with Al Pacino?
A: If you like that, then find "The Runner" with some guy I can't remember, Courtney Cox and John Goodman. There are parts of movies that involve sports betting but no iconic one. ... I think I need to work on a screenplay this offseason! [Editor's note: Tuley, who obviously isn't the movie expert whom he's pretending to be, is forgetting the star of the movie, Ron Eldard.]
Millenial from NYC (from Friday's SportsNation chat)
Q: Dave - Would you read a blog with analysis on games even if they didn't give an official pick? Personally it annoys me.
A: I would, but that's just me. I used to write more straight reporting pieces like my ESPN Chalk colleague David Purdum, but eventually people want you to put all that stuff into practice, so your feelings are typical.
Sportsbook news and notes
This last section will be where I clean out my reporter's notebook (and hopefully items relevant to sports betting aficionados):
• The Indianapolis Colts' 40-24 win over the New York Giants as 3-point road favorites while flying over the total of 51.5 closed the books on Week 9 of the NFL season with the betting results fairly split. Favorites ended up 6-5-1 ATS, with the Washington-Minnesota game not included as the ViewFromVegas Consensus Closing Line (which we use to grade the games) had it as a consensus pick 'em. The Giants' loss also gave home teams a losing record on the week at 5-7-1 ATS, mostly due to home underdogs going 1-3 ATS with New England the one to cover. This week's push was in Cincinnati's 33-23 win over Jacksonville, as the consensus closing line was Cincy minus-10 after being higher most of the week. We also had our first over/under push of the season, with Arizona's 28-17 win over Dallas falling right on the closing total of 45 points.
Week 9 betting results:
Home: 8-5 SU, 5-7-1 ATS
Favorites: 9-3 SU, 6-5-1 ATS (doesn't include WAS-MIN that closed pick 'em)
Home 'dogs: 1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS
Double-digit 'dogs: 1-2 SU, 2-0-1 ATS
Season to date through end of Week 9:
Home: 79-52-1 SU, 62-66-4 ATS (two London games not included)
Favorites: 89-41-1 SU, 65-62-4 ATS (four pick 'em games)
Home dogs: 13-23 SU, 15-20-1 ATS
Double-digit dogs: 1-9 SU, 5-4-1 ATS
• We have a new leader in the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest. CH Ballers, who entered the week tied with longtime leader Alcatraz Holdings, went 3-2 to take sole possession of first place with a record of 34-11 ATS (75.6 percent), while Alcatraz Holdings went 2-3 and fell into a tie for second place at 33 points (note: SuperContestants receive one point for a win and half a point for a push) with Stag Capital and Briefcase2.
Alcatraz Holdings was 26-4 ATS (86.7 percent) before I interviewed him here at Tuesdays With Tuley, and he didn't believe in the "Tuley Curse." He has gone 7-8 over the last three weeks. I'm going to try and track down the new leader this week, but it might be hard getting an interview, especially considering that earlier leader Henry Gonforff, aka Todd Fuhrman of FoxSports1, is 12-18 ATS (40 percent) since Fuhrman was exposed to the curse in this space after he started 14-1 ATS.
• At Santa Anita Park on Saturday, Texas Red won the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the championship race for 2-year-olds that includes some of the early favorites for the following year's Kentucky Derby. But the 13-1 long shot wasn't made the Derby favorite in the William Hill future book. That honor goes to Carpe Diem, who finished second in the Juvenile at 16-1. American Pharaoh, who would have been the favorite in the Juvenile but was scratched last week with a deep bruise in his left front hoof, is next at 30-1 with Texas Red at 40-1. But there's a long way until the first Saturday in May, which is why those odds seem so high, because nearly every horse is still an underdog to make it to the Derby starting gate.
Until next Tuesday, happy handicapping!